Warning: Spoiler Alert
Remember how I said that I wasn’t surprised that Rumpelstiltskin and Belle hadn’t had much use in the plot so far, because they’d have little to do with the Frozen storyline?
I love it when I’m wrong.
The events in the Enchanted Forest take precedent tonight. We open to a woman frantically packing books in a castle. The castle is under attack, but whatever she’s trying to save is too important to leave to “those monsters.” Soldiers warn the woman to find her daughter and disembark immediately. Then, Belle bursts into the room, shouting for her mother.
IT’S BELLE’S MOTHER. FINALLY, A BELLE EPISODE AND IT IS ABOUT DAMNED TIME.
It’s not a happy scene, though—an ogre crashes through the door of the library, and the two women cower beneath a table. The ogre flips the table over and roars, and the next scene is Belle startling out of a nightmare. She rushes from her bedroom in the castle in search of her mother, but instead she finds herself in the midst of her mother’s funeral. Her father reaches out to comfort her as she sobs and proclaims that she can’t remember anything.
She’s disturbed that she can’t remember her mother’s death. She begins to study nonstop, piling books around her as she goes, looking for a solution to her plight. Her father approaches her, concerned for her well-being. She isn’t healthy, according to the doctors. She informs him that she’s found information about magic creatures that can restore memories, and that she plans to seek them out so that she can recover what happened to her mother. Her father is irate that she is exerting herself in such a way, and doubly so that she wants to use magic to restore her mind. The price of magic, he cautions, is steep. He forbids her to journey to these creatures and insists she stay in the tower until the doctors say she has recovered. He then storms out of the room, and Belle, like many other willful teenage daughters, begins to plan her voyage. She looks at the parchment before her, vowing to find a way to retrieve her memories, even if it means disobeying her father and traveling to “this place”—Arendelle.
In Arendelle, Elsa and are Anna reunited. Anna claims that her mission to the Enchanted Forest was fruitless and she found nothing why here parents had gone there. Not true, of course, but I have a feeling Rumpelstiltskin didn’t tell her the whole truth about her parents anyway, so I’m not as concerned as I normally might be about this lie. Elsa excitedly tells Anna that she has met their aunt Ingrid, and that she is helping her control her powers. Anna is astounded—why didn’t their mother ever mention a sister?
Ingrid enters, explaining that a long time ago she got locked in an urn by people who didn’t understand magic. And that’s nice, but that doesn’t quite answer what Anna asked, nor does she offer any real answers to Anna’s other mile-a-minute questions. Elsa is dazedly happy to have not only more family in her life, but someone with powers like hers. She dismisses Anna’s concerns, but Anna smells a rat.
She goes to Kristoff and tells him of her reservations. She convinces him to cover for her in the castle while she travels to the rock trolls to see if they can help her uncover the truth about Ingrid. On her way to see Kristoff’s family, she runs in to Belle, who is searching for the rock trolls with a not-so-helpful map. Anna brightens when she hears Belle’s destination and insists that they journey together.
The two share a girl-time-intense trek to Anna’s future in-laws. They bond over one of the oldest fairytale-princess-traits in the book, their dead mothers. I don’t mean to seep flip–it’s quite a touching conversation. Anna also tells Belle about the hat she kind of stole from Rumpelstiltskin and the powers it has. This show just can’t resist scenes like Anna giving Belle a stern look and saying, in regards to The Dark One, “I hope you never cross paths with him.” That’s good, because I am a total sucker for exactly that kind of fluff.
Belle explains her dilemma to Grand Pabbie (who agrees to help the girls, but only after ribbing Anna about the postponed wedding), who is basically all “Yeah I got this” and, with a quick spell, her blocked memories transform into a crystal. The crystal, he explains, will unlock the memories if she takes it to the place where her mother died. Anna then asks to speak to Grand Pabbie in private, so she ask him about Ingrid and explain her misgivings.
And misgivings she should have. Grand Pabbie admits that he knew of Anna’s mother Gerta, and of Ingrid, and that there was a third sister, Helga. Thick as thieves, that bunch, until one day Ingrid and Helga disappeared. What happened was quite traumatic, he explains, and so at the behest of the king and queen, he removed the memory of the girls from everyone in Arendelle, and the royal family had their records eliminated. Anna’s stunned, and outraged that he would keep this secret from her. Sworn to secrecy, he explains, but he is gravely troubled over Ingrid’s intentions, so he chose to confide in Anna.
Anna is certain that Ingrid is up to no good at this point. She plans to tell Elsa everything. She and Belle decide to journey back to the city together, but unfortunately this trip is not as easy as the first. A fierce storm begins to blow as the two pick their way down a narrow mountain path. Anna’s convinced that it is the work of her aunt, trying to stop her from telling Elsa what she’s found out. A gust of wind knocks the girls apart, flinging Anna down a cliff and Belle’s crystal-of-memories on a ledge just out of her reach. Anna cries for help, and Belle shouts that she’s coming for her, but she doesn’t stop trying to reach her stone. The wind continues to wail, and the stone’s blown off the ledge and shatters. Belle is stricken, but rushes to help Anna, who slips from her grasp as soon as Belle reaches for her. Anna lays at the foot of the cliff. Aunt Ingrid descends on her. She overheard Anna confide her suspicions to Kristoff, so she’s been following Anna. Indeed, she did send the storm to stop Anna from telling Elsa of Grand Pabbie’s revelations. Ingrid opens Anna’s bag and finds the hat-box that contains The Sorcerer’s Amazing Magic Stealing Dream hat. Belle shouts from above for Ingrid to leave Anna alone, but Ingrid magicks the two of them away.
But to where? There will be time for that later. Now, back to the future! Storybrooke’s heavy hitters (Regina, Elsa, Emma, Hook, Henry, Mary Margaret, David, Rumpelstiltskin, and Belle) assemble at the sheriff station to examine the tape that Emma found at the end of the last episode. Their vigor to find
The Snow Queen got renewed, but they’ve been unsuccessful in finding her current digs. Her ice cream shop and Storybrooke house got stripped, of any useful evidence. But what kind of quaint New England ice cream parlor doesn’t have a truck? Henry, moody teenager but kid at heart, remembers that she had one. The group splits into search parties to find it. Belle, looking quite troubled, volunteers to go to the library instead, saying that there it may contain research that could help them. Elsa wants to check the library’s holdings on Arendelle, as well.
However, Storybrooke’s Arendelle section leaves much to be desired. Elsa again begins to despair—there’s no one in town who knows anything about her home, and no research she can find either. Perhaps, she thinks, it’s because Anna doesn’t want to be found. Belle reassures her that Anna must have loved her very much and would never want to hide from her. Elsa, as usual, seems unconvinced. Belle points her to another stack of books, and excuses herself. She left the kettle on at home, or something.
Ingrid may have erased Elsa and Emma’s memories, but Belle, it seems, wasn’t affected. She’s known of Anna all this time, and she’s convinced that her kidnapping by The Snow Queen was her fault. She’s overwhelmed with guilt, but she has a plan.
She’s rummaging through the pawn shop, gathering supplies to take on The Snow Queen. Gold finds her there, worried that she wasn’t at the library when he looked for here there. She begins a bit of a breathless explanation, but eventually she insists that she must find Anna. First, though, she has to find The Snow Queen. Gold presses her as to why, but she only replies that “heroes always help strangers.” Not exactly the truth there, Belle. She asks for her husband’s help, but he won’t hear of it (maybe because he and Queenie had a meeting in the woods earlier, while everyone was looking for the ice cream truck? Maybe. But there’s probably more to it than that.) For better or worse it’s in Rumpelstiltskin’s nature to want to protect the people he loves, and he refuses to be a part of Belle doing something so dangerous.
But Belle is desperate. She reaches into her bag and pulls out the dagger. The Dark One looks stricken, but is it because he’s shocked that she would use the dagger to do something against his will? Or is it because she’s holding a fake dagger and he’s going to have to fake being compelled by it?
The Golds arrive outside Ingrid’s ice-cave-lair. He can’t sense her magic, he explains, so she’s not home. He hopes this will persuade Belle to leave, but she bids him to keep watch while she goes inside to retrieve something. He’s quite agitated and demands to know what Belle thinks The Snow Queen could have that could find Anna? Belle tells him of the hat she knows that Ingrid took from Anna, and that she intends to find it so that she can force her to reveal Anna’s whereabouts.
Inside the cave, Belle hears Anna’s voice echoing through the ice. She tracks it across the room to the mirror, no longer cracked, covered in a white sheet. She pulls the sheet away, but she’s not met with her reflection. Not exactly. Instead, she faces a very not-nice part of herself. The reflection forces Belle to relieve the last time she saw Anna, making sure to drive home that Belle chose fumbling for a rock over saving her friend. This mirror is crueler than the one you face when trying on bathing suits. She taunts Belle about her marriage—The Dark One married her because she’s weak, and everyone knows it. And
Belle is so stupid, she continues, that she believes that her husband gave her the real dagger and not a fake.
She’s overwhelmed by the reflection’s abuse, so much that she barely notices when Gold comes in to tell her that he’s sensed The Snow Queen approaching. Belle is hysterical and lashes out with the dagger, cutting his cheek. He wrestles his arms around her and magicks them back to the shop.
There, Belle sees the blood running down her husband’s cheek and collapses in sobs. She tells him the mirror said that he didn’t love her, and that the dagger was fake. He reassures her that nothing the mirror said was true, that it is an object imbued with dark magic. (THIS IS NOT EXACTLY CLOSURE ON THE DAGGER SITUATION, ONCE UPON A TIME. YOU ARE KILLING ME.) She confesses to Rumpelstiltskin that she’s the reason why Anna is missing, and that she’s been keeping it from everyone until she can find a way to bring her back. She’s beside herself that she used the dagger against him and betrayed his trust. Rumpel holds her and whispers that he knew that she was only doing what she thought was right. Still crying, she asks for his forgiveness, which he immediately gives. I think he did, anyway. I couldn’t exactly hear because I was crying too hard.
Earlier in the day, Emma, Hook, Regina, and Robin came across the ice cream truck, which was shockingly easy to find. Maybe because Ingrid was hiding behind a tree as they approached it, making sure they’d find it? Inside, they files and files of Emma’s childhood. There’s newspaper clippings and foster care records, but there’s also art projects and report cards—things that a parent would keep as their child grows up. Emma and Hook begin to thoroughly examine the records. Regina begins to back away, but Robin follows her. “Sorry I told you I was in love with you after I asked you to save my wife’s life!” he blurts out. Yeah, smooth, Robin.
It might not matter what he says, though. Regina’s been through her entire vault, she tells him, and even sought The Snow Queen to save Marian, but she hasn’t been able to. The only way she can think of to save Marian is for Robin to fall in love with her again. Ouch.
With the truck found and files packed up, the group heads back to the sheriff station to further explore the records. Regina takes her leave, of course. She had enough of “Emma and Captain Guyliner making eyes at each other” earlier in the day. When you’ve just told your boyfriend that he needs to find a way to love his wife again, you really don’t want to witness a lot dashing romance and PDA.
Later, Elsa rushes in to join Emma and Hook. She found a book of Arendelle heraldry in the library (convenient!). She’s discovered that The Snow Queen is her Aunt Ingrid, and that there was another sister, Helga, as well. And, since she’s handy with runes, she can translate the runic scroll that happened to be stashed in with Emma’s old fingerpaintings. It’s a prophecy that states that Emma, the savior, will become The Snow Queen’s sister, and that the family will reunite again. Elsa is the spitting image of her mother, and, from the tiny painting in the heraldry book, it appears that Emma looks just like Helga. Safe to say that Ingrid’s intentions for Elsa and Emma just got clearer.
But we’re not done yet! Belle walks in, apparently recovered from her earlier tango with dark magic, but unable to keep her secret any longer. She tells Elsa that she met Anna in Arendelle, and that she’s the
reason that Anna is missing (which isn’t really true, because The Snow Queen still kidnapped her, but princess guilt is hard to assuage, I suppose.) The group shares what they’ve recently learned about Ingrid and the prophecy. Belle conveys what Rumpelstiltskin told her about the dark magic of the mirror, and moreover reveals that the mirror is part of a curse that, if cast, will cause Storybrooke to tear itself apart, leaving only Ingrid, Elsa, and Emma. Forever.
But Rumpelstiltskin takes matters into his own hands. He marches into Ingrid’s lair, offering her a deal. She has no use for anything he has, she scoffs. He won’t let her hurt anyone that he loves, he warns. She’s less than impressed—his newly found sentiment isn’t enough to stop her from getting what she’s always wanted. But The Dark One has the hat that she tried to steal from Anna so many years ago, and he’s not afraid to use it. Ingrid appears genuinely surprised and intimidated. He urges her to reconsider.
In the Enchanted Forest, Belle returns to her castle. Her father is waiting for her, angry that she left but seemingly happy that she’s home safe. Belle admits that she failed to recover her memories, and Maurice confesses that he’s known all along that her mother died to save her from the ogre attack. Belle’s devastated by her mother’s sacrifice, but also determined that she should not die in vain. She became intrigued by Anna’s explanation of the powerful wizard she met and wants to use him to stop the war. Again, Maurice protests, but Belle’s inspired by her mother’s bravery and wracked with guilt that she let Anna down. She’ll do anything to save her people from the war. Anything.
Once more, in Arendelle, Ingrid has Anna locked in a cell, and it’s clear that the woman has zero marbles left. She wants a family who loves her for what she is, she explains, but she’s certain that Anna meant to use the hat against Elsa to “cure” her of her powers. Ingrid wants the family she knew—herself, and her two sisters. She wanted Anna and Elsa to become like sisters, but since Anna doesn’t have magic, that will never work. Anna’s the odd one out. She’s got to go.
But go where?
We’ve had our RumBelle episode, except it was more about the two characters separately than their relationship or marriage, and all the answers we got tonight only managed to open up more questions.
I’d feel like the show’s teasing me, if I didn’t love it so much.
The Story Continues Next Sunday at 8:00 pm on ABC